What does this chimney produce in Glasgow City Centre? Strathclyde Grain Distillery explained

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The chimney has been in Glasgow for nearly 100 years - but the production site remains largely unknown by locals

Once upon a time (yonks ago) Glasgow’s skyline was dominated by chimneys, spewing pollutants into the air as the once-proud industrial city produced all sorts of goods for the British empire.

At one point Glasgow was even home to the tallest chimney stalk in the world, the Townsend Chimney in Port Dundas. Built in 1859, the chimney was 454 tall, with an estimated outside diameter of 32 feet. More than 1.4 million bricks were used in the construction, and the behemoth weighed the same as the Eiffel Tower (7000 tonnes).

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Nowadays, you’ll find just one smokestack in the city centre skyline, that of the Strathclyde Grain Distillery - a Scotch Whisky production centre located in the Gorbals, right across the Clyde from Glasgow Green.

The steam from the chimney comes as a result of the distillation process, in which the Gorbals production centre turns wheat into whisky by cooking it in a mash tun, leaving it to ferment by adding Yeast to produce Alcohol and CO2. The cook time is four hours and the fermentation time is 50 hours.

They then separate the Alcohol from the water by distillation, which is done by heating the liquid to evaporate and condensate it, which is the steam we see shooting into the sky above Glasgow.

All whisky distilleries in Scotland are overseen by SEPA as to control any pollution coming from CO2 in the production of whisky - so not to worry, the chimney isn’t spitting toxic fumes into the air.

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Strathclyde Grain Distillery is capable of producing 40 million litres of whisky per year, with a new-make strength of around 94.5 percent alcohol.

The distillery was founded in 1927 and built on the site of an old cotton mill, with the first spirit from the distillery finishing production in 1928. A New York company, Schenley Industries, took over the site in 1956 and invested heavily in it - producing the single malt whisky brand ‘Kinclaith’.

Just shy of 20 years later the Kinclaith still was closed in 1975 when the site was acquired by hotel firm Whitbread. Today the distillery is run by Chivas Brothers holdings under parent company the Pernod Ricard group (who produce Pernod as you might imagine) but also several other blended whiskies.

The chimney has been in Glasgow for nearly 100 years - but the production site is largely unknown by localsThe chimney has been in Glasgow for nearly 100 years - but the production site is largely unknown by locals
The chimney has been in Glasgow for nearly 100 years - but the production site is largely unknown by locals | Google Maps

The whisky produced in the Strathclyde Grain Distillery isn’t bottled, as it is used to create blended whiskeys under the Pernod Ricard brand, including: Chivas Regal and Ballantine’s. Both 100 Pipers, and Royal Salute Whisky are also blended whiskys under the parent company Pernod Ricard.

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You can however, buy some Single Cask Single Grain Whisky from the distillery for upwards of £100 online - courtesy of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society and other independent bottlers who’ve bought and bottled some aged casks from the Strathclyde Grain Distillery.

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